Culture differences between host family and exchange student
Even within ones own country, state or town we experience differences in culture. With the age of travel it has allowed people to not only visit but move to new countries, thus allowing us to share our cultures. Yet when you bring a student into your home from another country, you will realize that while you might have seen a bit of that culture maybe you still have a lot to learn. To see it is completly different than living it. This holds true for you and your student. Your student will perhaps have the biggest challenge when adapting. After all they have left their culture and comfort zone and entered into yours. This has the potential to be an exciting experience.
When you choose your student, you will know what country they have come from and what region of that country. Many countries have different traditions, foods, and even changes in their language dialect. These are all important things to look at. Take the time to explore about where your student is coming from. Many Asian countries are not big on physical affection such as hugs. So if they come off the plane and you run up and hug them, you could very well scare them. In some cultures it is polite to belch after a meal to show appreciation, while in others this is considered rude.
Share your culture & learn about theirs
When you learn about these differences, feel free to speak with your student about them. Share your culture. If you find it offensive when they belch at the table, kindly explain to them that in your culture that is not a polite act to do, but you are grateful that they enjoy your cooking. This lets them know you are not comfortable with their gesture, yet you are also saying thank you. It is good to give a positive with a negative. You will come off less abrupt. This will take some time for some students to adapt to your culture and social behaviors. Be patient. They are tackling so many new things at once. Be willing to overlook some things if you possibly can as long as they are not causing anyone any harm.
If you are having a hard time finding any information on your student's country, and their culture and social behaviors ask your local representitive. They often have a long list for you. And do not be afraid to ask your student in emails before they even get there. They will appreciate you trying to know and understand their culture.
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